Election 2014: It's Governor Mark Dayton vs. Jeff Johnson

By KBJR News 1

August 13, 2014 Updated Aug 13, 2014 at 5:56 PM CST

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- On the heels of Tuesday's primary election, candidates from all parties are beginning the big push to the November election.

In a competitive four–way Republican primary, Jeff Johnson emerged victorious to take on Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

Political observers say it was Johnson's Minnesota nice demeanor and the Republican endorsement that pushed the Republican over the political finish line.

Alisa Von Hagel is a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin Superior. She says although Johnson secured the GOP nomination, conservative voters were split between four "strong" Republican candidates.

"The winner having 30 percent of the total vote perhaps shows a fractured Republican base or also candidates that speak to different parts of the Republican party base in the state of Minnesota," Von Hagel said.

Johnson says he will run a positive fall campaign, contrasting his beliefs with Governor Mark Dayton. However, some political experts say that will not be enough to beat the incumbent DFL Governor.

"Oddly enough, it is quite difficult to have a very compelling and memorable campaign message and frame–in going only with a primarily positive approach," Von Hagel said.

Gregg Peppin, a Johnson campaign spokesperson, said Johnson will unite Republican Party voters in Minnesota.

Peppin added Johnson will respond to negative attacks from Democratic opposition in the coming weeks.

Leading up to the primary election, Democrats have roundly criticized Johnson for saying he would go all Scott Walker on Minnesota, meaning he would implement similar laws that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did.

"With Jeff Johnson, Minnesota sent a clear message that we don't want a right to work state, we want a state that invests in its' middle class. We have been doing that," said DFL State Representative Jason Metsa.

Although Johnson supports many of Scott Walker's initiatives, he says he will have a different approach to governing if elected.

"I don't think either state is moving fast enough in the right direction, but I truly believe less government tends to be better for job creation and business creation," Johnson said.

Nick Minock
nminock@kbjr.com